ontario lockdown

Doug Ford announces that all of Ontario is going back into lockdown

The lockdown announcement Ontario has been waiting for all night and all day has has finally dropped, courtesy of Premier Doug Ford — and it's everything we all secretly hoped it wouldn't be.

Sorry, folks.

As it turns out, early reports of a potential four-week-long provincewide shutdown weren't part of some cruel and elaborate April Fools' Day joke by the government.

Ford's team is officially pulling its pandemic emergency break this weekend in response to a concerning uptick in variants of concern, record-high ICU admission numbers, and (likely) the urging of health experts who warn that Ontario's COVID-19 situation is now out of control.

Beginning this Saturday, April 3, at 12:01 a.m., all 34 Ontario public health regions will move into shutdown mode for a period of four weeks.

All of Ontario will effectively be moved back into the same type of sweeping shutdown we entered on December 26 — the rules of which Toronto and Peel only just escaped from on March 5, and which have been modified multiple times in just 23 days.

What this means is that things will stay pretty much the same in Canada's largest city, save for gathering limits being lowered, an end to outdoor exercise classes, the closure of patios and the cancellation of plans to reopen salons and other personal care services on April 12.

"Friends, we're facing a very, very serious situation. Like I've said many times, we will do whatever it takes to protect the people of Ontario," said Ford when announcing the news at Queen's Park shortly before 2 p.m., citing the dangers of inaction amid the deadly third wave.

"The bottom line is that we need more time. We need to close the gap between where we are today and where we will be with the millions of vaccines we're expecting by June."

A release issued by the government Thursday afternoon states that the new "time-limited public health and workplace safety measures" coming into effect on April 3 include (but are not limited to):

  • Prohibiting indoor organized public events and social gatherings and limiting the capacity for outdoor organized public events or social gatherings to a 5-person maximum, except for gatherings with members of the same household (the people you live with) or gatherings of members of one household and one other person from another household who lives alone.
  • Restricting in-person shopping in all retail settings, including a 50 per cent capacity limit for supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers' markets, other stores that primarily sell food and pharmacies, and 25 per cent for all other retail including big box stores, along with other public health and workplace safety measures;
  • Prohibiting personal care services;
  • Prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments will be permitted to operate by take-out, drive-through, and delivery only;
  • Prohibiting the use of facilities for indoor or outdoor sports and recreational fitness (e.g., gyms) with very limited exceptions;
  • Requiring day camps to close; and,
  • Limiting capacity at weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies to 15 per cent occupancy per room indoors, and to the number of individuals that can maintain two metres of physical distance outdoors. This does not include social gatherings associated with these services such as receptions, which are not permitted indoors and are limited to five people outdoors.

"We are in a desperate race right now against an extremely aggressive and fast-moving virus. We need more runway to allow our vacination rollout to get where we need it," said Ford during his press conference Thursday.

"Please understand, this decision was not made lightly. I know the toll these restricitions continue to take on people's mental health and well-being... I know what this means for people, to be here, over a year into the pandemic," continued the premier.

"It's frustrating and it's very, very diffcult, but we've come so far, we've sacrificed too much to throw in the towel so close to things getting better."

Lead photo by

Doug Ford

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